Behold, the Joshua tree! It grows in only one place: Joshua Tree National Park in California. The park is basically a desert. Bathed in ethereal red light at dawn, it becomes a furnace by noon with temperatures routinely soaring beyond 120 degrees.
So why is the Joshua tree special enough to have a national park named after it? Because it's pretty much the only thing that will grow there. Even though the environment is brutal, this particular tree has somehow found a way to adapt and survive.
It's a little like that for churches on Long Island, New York. The ground is hard and not conducive to church life. People are jaded, and clergy are often treated like snake oil salesmen. In some cases, I have to admit, the attitude is deserved. Some have dubbed Long Island "The Preacher's Graveyard." It's a difficult place to grow a church.
The hard soil, however, is capable of nourishing life. But churches there must do what they have done around the world and throughout history: adapt and learn to thrive in even the most difficult environments.
That's our story at True North Community Church. We opened our doors on Long Island in September 2005. Some seven years later, we're amazed at what God has done. We're running four services each Sunday, and we've had the honor of baptizing hundreds of new believers! While we've been blessed to thrive in a challenging environment, we certainly aren't the only ones. I'm thrilled to see other "Joshua tree" congregations springing from the hard soil of Long Island.
The "planting" analogy is apt. A new church begins as a seed, receives water and nourishment, and for reasons even experts don't fully understand, produces a living thing with the potential to nurture and shelter other life. Although we ...